Originally Posted by jgonino
It's a Hitachi HT-40S Direct-drive turntable. (...)
> Is it any good?
Well, that depends on the condition as well as your point of view, expectations et cetera. But in short: If you're striving for high-end, this most probably wouldn't be the right table to start with. However, if you just want a decent entry-level turntable for a proper start into the world of vinyl, this typical 80s semi-automatic direct-drive model will do the job just fine...
> I see that where there should be a cartridge, there is some wires. I assume i could get a replacement?
What your HT-40S should have is a headshell for standard half-inch-mount cartridges with four wires with little connectors that will fit onto the corresponding four output pins of the cartridge - usually colour coded in red & green and white & blue (for right channel signal & ground and left channel signal & ground).
So, yes, provided that nobody has ripped off that headshell, you can mount a pretty wide choice of cartridges. Half-decent moving-magnet cartridges (MMs ) that would fit start at ~ US$ 30, but I'd rather recommend to invest a little more for something like an Audio Technica AT120E or Shure M97xE, which both should work well with the supposedly light to medium-heavy arm. However, I wouldn't recommend to go higher than ~ US$ 150...
>Also, it has RCA's coming out of the back, but I am unsure how to connect it to anything. Does it need a phono stage? (and on that note, what is a phono stage?)
Well, yes, as swt61 already mentioned, you'll need to plug those RCAs into a phono stage, either a seperate one or one that's integrated into an amp/receiver/soundcard/whatever... And there also should be another wire with a little spade connector that you should connect to the phono ground screw of the phono stage.
And to elaborate further on the phono stage functions, besides amplifying the phono signal up to line-level, the phono stage also provides re-equalisation of the signal: In order to make it possible/easier for the needle to follow the groove modulations and to achieve longer play-time, the original signal goes through a filter, which basically boosts the treble and reduces the bass (if you want more details, google for "RIAA curve"), before it goes to the cutting head. So, for playback, the phono stage also needs to apply the mirror-image of that filter in order to re-linearise the frequency response.
Greetings from Munich!
Manfred / lini